Thursday, April 15, 2010
My father would have been ashamed of me. He was a man who always had serious string. I’m not talking about the cheapo kind that you’d tie up a parcel with, the rough white hairy stuff that you could buy in any Post Office. No, I’m talking about brown string. Proper bees-waxed twine. The kind that sailors used to mend their sails with, the kind that would cut through your fingers like cheese-wire before it would ever break.
Waxed twine came on a tightly spooled drum, a solid object, full of purpose and possibilities. Here lay the cocooned beginnings of a hundred kites, a thousand bows and arrows, a million conker fights. Here was a thread from which you could suspend your life.
Yes, for a man currently in possession of no string, I’m a big fan of the stuff.
I like rope, too, particularly proper brown rope, made of hemp. Playground rope. Girls used it for skipping games – those endlessly inventive songs and rhymes and routines that have now vanished from break-time culture. But although I can recall the warm touch of natural hemp rope, winding it round my fingers to get a good satisfying grip, I can’t remember what we boys used it for. I think maybe we just tied a knot in the end and hit each other with it. That’d be about right.
Maybe that was it: boys were creative and inventive with string, girls ditto with rope.
Anyway, I wish I had some right now. A length of rope or a decent bit of string would improve my life no end, and probably everyone else's too. That’s my theory.